NTC to Congress: Give us more ‘teeth’ to impose telco rules
The country’s telecommunications watchdog is encouraging Congress to give them more “teeth” in imposing circulars on existing telco players, compelling them to improve services and address the country’s slow internet connection.
“We’ve issued a memorandum setting a minimum speed for internet, but the telco players said they can’t comply now due to the lack of facilities. They did say they will eventually comply, so we asked them to fast-track,” said Allan Macaraya, legal officer of the National Telecommunications Commission-Central Visayas (NTC-7), during yesterday’s Association of Government Information Officers-Philippine Information Agency Central Visayas (AGIO-PIA-7) forum in Cebu City.
A revision of the laws would help NTC more effectively regulate the industry as well as penalize players when necessary.
The NTC is the government body tasked to regulate, supervise, adjudicate and control telecommunications services in the country.
Macaraya said there have to be revisions done on the Philippines’ investment laws to entice more foreign players to invest here, which is a surefire way to remedy the slow internet connection in the country.
He said he was still hoping that a new player will enter the local telco industry to break the existing duopoly and eventually improve internet services in the country.
“If only there was a new player to invest in the telecom industry here, then there won’t only be slight improvement. It will have a very big impact on our part,” he said in the forum on Tuesday.
With a new telco player, Macaraya projected internet services, whether broadband or mobile, to improve by more than 50 percent.
The Philippines has consistently ranked at the bottom of surveys on mobile and broadband internet speeds across the region and the world.
In 2015, the Philippines was found to be the second slowest in Asia, according to internet speed testing firm Ookla.
While Ookla noted improvements in upload and download speeds last year, the Philippines still remains at the bottom of the roster.
Australian firm Telstra showed interest in a telecommunications venture for the Philippine market through a partnership with Philippines conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), but talks ended March of 2016 even after both companies tried to come up with acceptable resolution to some issues.
“I was really sad when Telstra withdrew. It would have been nice if they were here in the Philippines,” said Macaraya.
For the longest time, the Philippine market has been dominated by telco giants Globe Telecom and PLDT.
He, however, cited the country’s restrictive laws and the tedious process of securing a franchise as among the reasons that foreign investors are apprehensive to invest in the telco industry.
He said a way also to address the internet issue is granting the president emergency powers to address traffic and, hopefully, NTC issues.
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